Successful retail blogs walk a line, of sorts, between journalism and product promotion, while consistently and regularly providing reader-customers with good, often useful content. Content marketers from small or mid-sized ecommerce businesses may be able to get ideas and inspiration from such blogs.
There are dozens, even hundreds, of retailers that do an amazing job of content marketing, many of which — Mr. Porter, REI, GORUCK, and others — have been mentioned in Practical Ecommerce before.
To this list, consider adding and reading the blogs from these three retailers: Free People, Home Depot, and ModCloth. Each represents excellent content marketing examples that typify some important aspect of retail content marketing.
Free People, BLDG 25 Blog
For content marketers, BLDG 25 is a good example of how to blend useful or interesting content with product promotion. Consider this January 16, 2016, post, “Three Reasons You Need to Surf This Year,” from Joanna Rentz.
The short blog post has fewer than 400 words but features ten relatively large photographs, many of which it links to Free People product detail pages.
The post’s copy is casual, light, and entertaining. The images make sense in context.
Rentz, as an example, writes, “Surfing has multiple benefits — physical, emotional and mental — all of which [are] beckoning me back out on the waves. … I think we’re all on the same page here — surfers have bangin’ bodies. Riding the waves is a dynamic cardiovascular exercise, working all major muscle groups in the arms, legs and core.”
The images around this copy show a fit female surfer (perhaps emphasizing Rentz’s point) while showing off Free People’s products.
A second example can be found in the BLDG 25 New Year’s yoga series, the third installment of which was published on January 15, 2016. This post features a short bit of text, a video from CorePower Yoga instructor Ashley Rufo, and several exercise images.
The post is surprisingly similar to a workout article you might find on a women’s health site. It is both useful to the customer and a good way to promote Free People’s yoga product line.
The content on BLDG 25 is something content marketers at nearly any ecommerce business could imitate. Your company could strike this balance between product promotion and good blog content too.
Home Depot’s Blog
One of the best ways to reach potential retail customers with content marketing is to give them something useful. In fact, utility is, perhaps, one of the highest forms of content marketing.
The Home Depot Blog is a good example of how content marketing can serve customers well. Many of the posts seek to help blog visitors solve some problem or complete some task.
As an example, consider a recent blog post describing how to install an interior slab door, which breaks down the installation process into 15 distinct steps, each with an accompanying photograph. The description at each step is simple and direct, written, one supposes, to either encourage folks to try the project or help them through it if they’ve already decided to give it a try.
The Home Depot Blog’s DIY posts are enough to set a good example for content marketers, but these posts are not the only sort of articles published here. The blog also had many “idea” posts that are, perhaps, intended to inspire potential customers.
As a recent example, the blog post, “Bathroom Vanities in 3 Unexpected Places,” suggested placing a sink and nice bathroom vanity in a mudroom, which seems like a pretty good idea.
Story by ModCloth
ModCloth, a fashion retailer, calls it blog Story, and while it has reasonably good writing, the “story” for content marketers is the site’s consistency.
ModCloth publishes helpful content frequently. For example, between January 1 and 17, 2016, 13 posts were published on Story. They covered a range of topics, from a contest announcement to an interview with an avian veterinarian named Fish.
Don’t imagine these latest posts are some new burst of writing or publishing. In December 2015, 27 posts were published to the blog. There were 24 in November 2015 and 21 in October 2015. That means ModCloth published 72 blog posts in just the fourth quarter of last year.
Not every retailer will be able to commit to the number of posts ModCloth is producing, but consistency is important in content marketing. Think of it this way, would you subscribe to a magazine that released its issues at random? Probably not. So don’t be that magazine. Instead, be like Story by ModCloth and publish regularly and consistently.